Apply To Startups Of The Month

02 March 2023·6 min read

Martyna Konys

Program Manager, Vestbee

Startup Accelerator Of The Month - Impact Hub Belgrade

Impact Hub Belgrade is the network for cleantech entrepreneurs, female founders and digital media startups. They assist in finding resources, connecting with a global network of peers, and fostering business growth to create a positive impact. As part of a global movement, over 100 locations worldwide are prototyping the business of the future, including the Impact Hub.

Accelerator Strategy Overview

Geography: Western Balkans
Preferred industries: Digital media; Cleantech – the cross-cutting principle of gender diversity
Company stage: Early-stage
Product stage: At least MVP
Product type: Preferably software
Revenues: Ideally yes, but not a requirement; focus on market testing

Program Details

Duration: 6 weeks intensive with additional 4 months of tracking and mentoring
Participation fee:  €200 for 6 months
Equity Investment: N/A
Grant: Only through specific programs such as ClimAccelerator (from 3K to 20K)
No. of batches per year (+ months when you collect applications): Cohorts run quarterly, so 4 cohorts per year
No. of startups in a cohort: From 10 to 15

Q&A with Gaia Montelatici, Co-Founder at Impact Hub Belgrade

What are the 5 most important things you look for in a startup applying to your acceleration program?

  • The preparedness of the founders: why they decided to start their startup, what is their highest ambition; what are their core competencies; background; previous experiences; networks; how they show commitment...
  • Market opportunity & Impact
  • Time to Market
  • What do they need in terms of support/assistance and can we help with that
  • What kind of investment do they need in the next 6 to 12 months

What startups should take into account before applying to your acceleration program?

  • While we do have resources and tools such as decks, templates etc. we focus on live discussions that address the real challenges each startup is facing. So founders start from the situation and with the mentors they „deconstruct” them, analyse them and apply the know-how and tools to find solutions. We are mentors and experts in our accelerator and we facilitate learning but we do not offer black-and-white answers.
  • We believe that the network of support starts with peer learning. So, the more experienced entrepreneurs from our network are invited to share their know-how and practices with the cohorts. In general, all founders in the cohorts are invited to do the same with each other
  • We leverage the resources of our global network – since the Impact Hub is in 100+ locations on 5 continents. This means we connect and match entrepreneurs of our cohorts to peers, experts, investors, and clients reachable through Impact Hubs in the markets the entrepreneurs from the Western Balkans target
  • We are successful when entrepreneurs reach success. So after the first 6 weeks of more intensive work, the founders can ask for specific consulting, and hands-on assistance for raising investments and we can find the most fitting models, i.e. success fee.

Can you share some of the red flags that can disqualify a startup from joining your accelerator?

  • Lack of commitment and participation: we do not want to waste anybody’s time including our own. If entrepreneurs are not committed to participating it is best they do not enter the acceleration
  • Unwillingness to share with peers is a red flag
  • Unwillingness to invest their time and resources

What are the most valuable skills that selected startups can develop thanks to your program?

  • Market-driven skills including: analysis, sizing, go-to-market; customer profiling; system thinking/feedback loops
  • Storytelling and presentation skills
  • Formulation of value propositions
  • Negotiation
  • How to become investable
  • How to identify the investors they should go after

How does your accelerator support portfolio companies during and after the program?

  • Portfolio management is an approach we use to give continuity to our support during the 6 weeks of intensive work and after
  • We provide sessions once a well for 6 weeks addressing the key themes related to the stage of the startups in the cohort. We deliver know-how; present examples through experienced entrepreneurs; facilitate discussion and do specific problem-solving by applying the tools to the specific cases
  • We provide group and/or individual mentoring once a week to help entrepreneurs with operational issues
  • We offer pitching coaching and informal occasions for the entrepreneurs to participate in mock pitches (twice per month / if needed more often)
  • We organize Demo-Days where the startup's pitch
  • We provide office hours and ask me for anything sessions after the 6 weeks
  • We refer startups to events regionally/internationally – when possible we sponsor some startups to participate in international events to increase their exposure
  • We match entrepreneurs from the Western Balkans to the ones from the markets they target
  • We share newsletters etc on market/industry trends

What are the best-performing companies in your portfolio?

Some of the best-performing ones include Joberty, Hireapp, and Beyond42.

What key lessons have you learned from projects that didn’t work out the way you expected?

  • Timing is important too: sometimes entrepreneurs are not ready
  • Trust is the foundation
  • A learning mindset is key: it is not what it is now, it is what it will become and every mistake is necessary to know how to build...
  • Market fit is very very hard to achieve and when the Western Balkans are a test market, there needs to be someone of authority in the intl market of entry because there are humongous structural differences between the Western Balkans and international markets.

Why, in your opinion, accelerators are becoming more popular nowadays?

It is clear that startups need to know how and sound guidance on how to get to investments and they need money to build marketable products. On the other hand, corporates and at times even governments have specific interests in innovative solutions/products in specific industries and are thus willing to finance accelerators.

What are the hottest markets you currently look at as an accelerator and where do you see the biggest hype?

We are looking at cleantech and at digital media that can address the bias we see in the way data is used, processed, handled and published. We look at Europe and the US primarily as markets. But we are not driven by the logic of hype

Do you have any predictions about the key trends that will shape the European accelerator scene in the near future?

I wish I did 😊 As we see it now, Europe has a great need for (clean) energy and digitalization. Blockchain has been hyped too. Hard to say…

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